A letter writer’s mom gets mad when she starts to cry.
Our elder hopes that their own experience can help.
I cry so easily. Whether it be watching something sad or just thinking about something sad. My mom hates it when I cry and most of the time gets mad and tells me I need to be tougher. Every time I’m on the verge of crying in front of her, I try my hardest to stop because I know that she is going to get mad at me and if I do, my mom does not listen when I say that I try hard not to cry. I really need to talk to my mom about things like if I’m sad or if I’m extremely worried about something but I’m bound to tear up when talking about things like that. How do I explain to her that I try not to cry so easily but I just can’t stop myself when I do?
I understand that you are concerned about your mom’s reaction to your crying, and I’m glad that you’ve reached out to the Elders for advice on how to handle this. I will do my best to help, and I can give you my experience based on having a daughter who is much more emotional than I am.
My experience within my own family and others throughout my life has convinced me that every one is “wired” somewhat differently, which means that people often react differently to the same event or stimulus. This doesn’t mean that how they react is abnormal, but it can mean that their reaction is not acceptable to others who are not reacting in the same way. Perhaps this is why your mom is having difficulty accepting that you cry easily; maybe she is not an emotional person who shows her feelings freely. Being a parent is a challenge because the only experience you have is how your parents raised you. If you are not an openly emotional person or if your emotions were suppressed as a child, it makes it difficult as a mom to “allow” your child to be very expressive in her emotions. I restricted my daughter so much from expressing her negative feelings (I remember calling her a “drama queen”) that she began having night terrors when she was about 10 years old. Imagine how bad I felt when her doctor told me that I could help her by letting her express herself more. Sure enough, when I quit punishing her for her emotional reactions, the night terrors stopped. I wasn’t trying to create issues for her—I was just parenting her with the same expectations that my mom had for me which didn’t allow me to question her decisions. At that point, I accepted that my daughter was not trying to manipulate me or be disrespectful; she was just needing to be herself. Perhaps your mom is reacting negatively to your crying because she was taught as a child that it represents immaturity (big girls don’t cry) or manipulation (I’ll get what I want if I cry). Your crying is probably not related to these things at all, but your mom may be having trouble seeing this.
Why do you feel that you cry easily? As I said, it may be that your brain is just wired this way. Keep in mind, too, that easy crying also happens if you are tired or sad or if your hormones are involved. I can remember several times in high school where a girl was embarrassed to break out in tears in class for no apparent reason. This is not unusual if you are female at any point in time, but is especially likely to happen at certain times when your hormones are changing. And, you certainly do need to be able to talk with someone when you are worried or sad—if you and your mom can’t reach a level of acceptance on this, please find another adult or good friend you trust who is okay with your response. Holding this in is not healthy, as I found out with my daughter all those years ago. At the same time, you can do things to help like get plenty of rest so that your emotions are more controllable. Exercise can also help your body physically expend emotional energy, which might be now showing up as tears.
You need to let your mom know what is going on inside you. I suggest that if this is difficult to discuss with her face to face that you sit down and write this out in a letter to her. Explain that you are writing because you worry about not being able to control tearing up and that you are not trying to be disrespectful or manipulative when you are teary. If you have any concerns about your health and how it relates to crying, ask her to make a doctor’s appointment for you to make sure that there is not a physical reason for your emotions being so close to the surface. If you are especially sad or worried about something going on in your life, let her know. Trust me that she does not want to be the cause of your concerns—I’m sure she believes that she is doing the best thing for you by telling you to be tough. She may think that you might get hurt or embarrassed with your friends or teachers if you cry as easily with them. I hope that one way or the other you can start a dialog with her that can help you grow together or at least understand each other better.
I would appreciate knowing how you are doing as time goes on, and wish you the very best.
Letter #: 421177